It’s a fact: Baking with cherries you picked yourself makes them taste better. Harvest some at this western Virginia orchard, and you’ll understand.
story & photos by Bakery Boy
Click here to see a separate post about Cherry Picking Time at Levering Orchard
Click here to see a separate post with a recipe for Cherry Pie from Levering Orchard
This recipe for Cherry Crisp went over very well at my house. My family quickly finished off the initial batch and clamored for more. I’d brought back plenty of cherries from my visit to the you-pick operation at Levering Orchard in Ararat, Virginia—more than we were likely to eat as raw snacks before they began to rot—so I gladly started in making a double batch. The second time around I had enough to satisfy the home front and share some with a neighbor.
Here’s the Cherry Crisp recipe adapted from Fruit Orchard Cookbook: Over 90 Years of Favorite Family Fruit Recipes from Levering Orchard. Compiled and published in 2001 by third-generation orchard owner Frank Levering and his then-wife Wanda Urbanska—host of the television series Simply Living With Wanda Urbanska and author of several related Simple Living books—it’s a useful resource for baking with all kinds of fruit, but especially cherries.
LEVERING ORCHARD CHERRY CRISP
– 1/3 cup flour
– 3/4 cup rolled oats
– 1/3 cup margarine
– 1 1/3 cup sugar (divided)
– 1 pound (about two full cups) tart cherries, pitted
– 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
– 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– Put cherries in a bowl with 1/2 cup sugar; stir occasionally to let syrup form (about 30 minutes).
– Preheat oven to 375°.
– Combine four and oats.
– Cut in margarine until mixture is crumbly.
– Mix in 1/3 cup sugar; set aside for topping.
– Drain cherries, reserving liquid.
– Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar with cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice.
– Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until sauce is thick and clear.
– Add cherries to sauce.
– Pour into a greased 8 x 8-inch baking pan.
– Sprinkle topping mixture evenly over cherry mixture.
– Bake at 375° for 30 minutes.
FRUIT ORCHARD COOKBOOK
Levering Orchard’s Fruit Orchard Cookbook—which includes the cherry crisp recipe above as well as recipes for cherry ice cream, cherry cake, cherry compote, cherry cashew cookies, cherry coffee cake, cherry pie, cherry cupcakes, cherry custard, cherry dumplings, cherry oat muffins, cherry pizza pie, cherry salad, cherry salsa, cherry soup, cherry tiramisu, chocolate cherry biscotti, cherry sauce, cobbler and more—can be purchased for $11.95 at the orchard’s pack house or ordered through the website www.leveringorchard.com. The book also includes recipes involving apples, apricots, peaches, pears, and plums, all of which grow at Levering Orchard.
Levering Orchard lies 2 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Orchard Gap, about 75 miles southwest of Roanoke, Virginia, and 10 miles north of Mount Airy, North Carolina. From I-77 just north of the Virginia-North Carolina border, take exit 8, follow signs leading to the Blue Ridge Parkway via State Route 148 and U.S. 52, turn north on the Parkway, go about 6 miles, between mileposts 193 and 194 turn right on Dusty Ridge Road, which becomes Orchard Gap Road, and watch for the Levering Orchard entrance on the right in one of the steep two-lane’s many tight curves. Cherries ripen from late May through early July. The orchard also produces apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, and pears ripe for harvest in July and August, and apples from July through November.
163 Levering Lane
Ararat, VA 24053
276-755-4837 cherry hotline
276-755-3593 packing house
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